Hi there. I didn't forget about my blog just took a longer break than intended. I missed you guys. Had some serious stuff on my plate, but I am back now with some great new recipes to share with you. I have been cooking a bunch this last month but also have been eating out more than usual. Its hard to blog when you aren't home to cook or you're too sick to cook.... anyone else's family got hit this spring with some hefty spring colds?
Pasta. Pasta. Pasta and cheese. We shall not forget about the cheese. Its one of the 10 commandments isn't it? Okay maybe not but it could've been #11 and we just don't know. I added an extra cup to the original recipe figured it was okay since I was cutting back some sugar. Moderation right? (wink).
My family loves pasta. Spaghetti, mac and cheese, lasagna, chicken and noodle type dishes, tuna casserole with the big wavy egg noodles, and almost everything else. There's just something about noodles that translates into happy, warmth, comfort, and love. Its going to be over 90 degrees at my house today in southern Az - which doesn't usually scream heavy comfort food - but this is a pioneer woman's recipe so there's no way I was going to wait until fall to try this cheesy, meaty dish! The flavors are typical Italian dried oregano, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and parsley. But it is magic on your fork and in your mouth. My 4 yr old ate seconds cleaning off his plate with his fingers to get every drop!
|This doesn't happen very often. #veryhappymom|
My thoughts about cooking this meal. It takes longer than my usual spaghetti recipe by triple the amount of time - but its worth it. Part of the reason for the long cooking time is the recipe has you make the sauce from scratch, slowly developing amazing flavor. Something I wasn't expecting, when I baked the spaghetti, the presentation and feel of the dish changed. It became something I would be more comfortable sharing with company instead of the usual and familiar pile of pasta. This is similar to when I bake mac and cheese with bread crumbs versus just making it creamy on the stove - the usual dish is elevated. I haven't tried it but you could even make it ahead and bake it off the night you want to eat... since this is a cross between spaghetti and a layered casserole.
total cooking/baking time: approx 1 hr 20 minutes
(50 minutes is inactive either on stove or oven)
serves 4-6 people
serves 4-6 people
I changed 5 things from the original which can be found here.
1 tsp olive oil
sprinkle of salt and pepper approx 1/2 tsp each
1 Tbs salt (for pasta water)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, small diced1 red bell pepper, small diced (same size as the onion)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed, unpeeled and finely chopped
1 - 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
half of box of whole grain spaghetti noodles * I used whole grain angel hair pasta
2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated/shredded
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded
1/4 cup fresh chopped or 1 Tbs dried parsley (garnish)
1. Start the meat sauce. Brown the ground meat in the olive oil over medium heat in a fairly large pan with high sides. Should take 4-5 minutes to get that great brown caramelization.
2. While the meat is browning, wash and chop the onion, garlic, and red pepper. Once the meat is browned add it to the veggies, salt, and pepper to pan. Cook for 9-10 minutes. The veggies should be softened.
3. To the same pan, then add all of the tomatoes, oregano, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. But I didn't stand by my stove. This is hands off time.... you don't need to babysit the thickening sauce.
4. 5-6 minutes of prep while the sauce is simmering away:
- Start a pot of boiling water on your stove with salt.
- Shred or grate your cheese.
- Pull out a casserole dish for later. I used my glass 1 qt rectangle dish.
- Chop up your parsley.
- Cook your pasta, 2 minutes shy of the cooking time suggested on the box. For me the al dente time suggested for whole grain angel hair pasta was 4 minutes so I cooked it for 2 minutes. Last, preheat the oven to 350.
5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and set it aside. Sometimes I add a tiny bit of oil, after draining, to make sure it doesn't clump. I didn't do that this time and turned out fine but it did stick together a bit more than I would've liked.
6. Make the layers: When the sauce is done put 1/3 of it in the bottom of the casserole dish, then add 1/2 of the noodles, then top that with half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers with 1/3 more of sauce, the remaining noodles, and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining sauce and bake for 20 minutes.
7. At the 20 minute mark, carefully pull it out and top the baked spaghetti with all the remaining cheeses. Continue baking for 10 minutes.
8. Pull it out of the oven. Top the meaty, cheesy, saucy dish with the parsley. Let the food rest for 10 minutes in the pan so you can make slices, neat squares or rectangles with a metal spatula.
9. Eat and enjoy. I bet you'll want seconds just like my family did!
Thats all for now.
Enjoy your spring!
from my kitchen to yours